Bates professors tend to be outstanding. Most are experts in their fields, and they generally bring a high degree of enthusiasm to the classes they teach. There are certainly some who, because they are tenured, don’t care much about bringing new approaches to their courses, but most professors care very deeply about the subjects they’ve chosen to teach. On the whole, Bates professors are very approachable, and some are even open to receiving phone calls from overstressed students during the wee hours of the morning. The school’s small class sizes and low student-to-teacher ratio ensure that students are able to develop close relationships with their professors if they choose to do so. This encourages an atmosphere of mutual respect—many professors will ask their students to call them by their first names, and often professors request that students aid them in research projects and other such endeavors. Because so many classes are small and discussion-oriented, students are often deeply involved in their courses.
Probably the biggest issue facing Bates academics at the moment is general education requirements. In order to graduate, students must fulfill these requirements, which, coupled with a student’s major requirements—most of which involve writing a senior thesis—can be very difficult for a student to complete. Compounding the problem is the fact that entry-level natural science courses are almost always over-enrolled—some by as many as 100 students. So, students who are taking courses simply to fulfill gen ed requirements compete for places with students who are taking the courses for their majors or because they’re genuinely interested in the subjects. Aside from the gen ed requirements, students have few complaints about classes and professors at Bates. The system may have a few flaws, but the professors and the courses offered are above average, to say the least.